When it comes to pest control sprayers, safety is not just a good idea, it's a great investment. Inattention to safety has huge financial implications: increased expenses (workers comp, clean ups, medical bills, lawsuits, repairs, etc.), lost productivity, employee turnover, customer impacts, bad publicity, etc.
This month we will discuss vehicle load safety. By this I mean
- Load security
- Flying objects
- Vehicle control & stability
I raise this issue because our repair facility has seen an increase in the number of totaled pest control trucks. I am not sure of the reason for this. Some possibilities:
- Smaller trucks (easier to total in an accident)
- More equipment in truck
- More traffic
- More time on the road
- More bad drivers (at least in Phoenix, AZ).
These accidents have caused us to think about what our customers can do to protect themselves, their employees, and their companies. Here are some ideas.
- Visibility - Make sure that pest control spray rig and equipment does not create blind spots for the driver.
- Make sure it's secured. You don't want equipment sliding around in the back of your truck. It is dangerous to the driver, distracting and can damage your expensive equipment.
- Don't assume it's attached. You don't want equipment flying off your truck crashing into people and property. Even if the accident wasn't your fault (or your employee's fault), if your equipment hits someone, a lawyer will sue you. Periodically check your equipment to ensure it's secured to your truck. For example:
- Spray Rig - Is it securely bolted to the truck? Are bolts tight? Is the correct fastening system being used (e.g., nylock nuts are unlikely to come loose)?
- Tank - Are the tank straps intact? Snug? Secure? Do they show any signs of wear? Perform a thorough inspection periodically. You do not want a tank flying off your truck, becoming a water-filled projectile. A 50-gallon tank weighs over 400 pounds when full. It will destroy whatever it hits.
- Tool Box - Tool boxes are usually bolted through the bottom of the tool box to the truck. Inspect for rust, fatigue, or other wear around the bolts. If the material around the bolts is weak, in the event of a crash, the box may fly off.
- B&Gs, Backpacks, etc. - most of our clients put these in a snug place in the truck. They are prevented from rolling around but they are not secured from being launched should an accident occur. A one-gallon steel sprayer hitting another car's windshield at 60 miles per hour will not be pretty. Secure these items appropriately. As a side benefit, this could also help reduce theft. See photos for hand sprayer security racks.
- Load Stability. This is particularly important as PMPs shift to smaller trucks to improve gas mileage. Some ideas:
- Don't over load the vehicle
- Balance the load
- Pay particular attention to your water tank. At 8.4 pounds per gallon, the water in your tank is likely the heaviest component on your truck. There are two issues with the tank:
- The weight of the water
- The surge of the water in the tank.
Anyone who has hit the brakes at intersection with a partially full water tank knows that these are serious issues.
The answer to the water weight issue is don't overload the truck, i.e., make sure the tank is not too large to safely control the vehicle.
The challenge of tank surge is that most tanks are not properly baffled to reduce the surge. Most plastic (poly) tanks are not baffled and most fiberglass and steel tanks, if baffled, are baffled only in one dimension. There is a new class of instant tank baffles that can be added to the tank at any time. These baffles suppress surge on all three axes (left-right, front-back, up-down) to virtually eliminate surge. This makes the vehicle much easier to control and stop.
Conduct these inspections periodically to ensure you and your employees are being as safe as you can be. Watch for future safety articles in this space.
Andrew Greess is the President of Quality Equipment & Spray, which designs and builds custom pest control spray equipment solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on this topic or to share your comments, visit his blog at www.sprayequipmentblog.com.